Indian CEOs pip global peers in age and experience, says survey

Topics Indian CEO | MNCs | CEO pay

Indian chief executive officers (CEOs) differ from their global counterparts in that they are younger and more experienced but they handle companies with much lower revenues. They also prefer to take feedback from the top management rather than turn to the board or chairperson for advice, according to a survey of CEOs across the world by senior executive search company Egon Zehnder.   CEOs elsewhere rely much more on the chairperson and boards for feedback, both for their own performance and that of the company.   These are some of the differenc­es that have emerged from the .....
Indian chief executive officers (CEOs) differ from their global counterparts in that they are younger and more experienced but they handle companies with much lower revenues. They also prefer to take feedback from the top management rather than turn to the board or chairperson for advice, according to a survey of CEOs across the world by senior executive search company Egon Zehnder.

 

CEOs elsewhere rely much more on the chairperson and boards for feedback, both for their own performance and that of the company.

 

These are some of the differenc­es that have emerged from the find­ings of Egon Zehnder’s interviews of over 1,000 CEOs who toge­ther have revenues of $4 trillion. In India, Egon quizzed 100 CEOs, half of whom were heading Indian compa­nies and the other half were leading multinational companies (MNCs).

 

The survey also found that CEOs in India focus more on the company’s growth than on other financial matrixes. And they believe more strongly than their global peers in the need to transform themselves and their organisation.  For 85 per cent of the Indian CEOs surveyed, the top choice for getting feedback is from the senior leadership. For 62 per cent, the second choice was relying on their own judgement.

 

Globally, the reliance on top management was lower (it is the first choice of 71 per cent of CEOs). For 51 per cent of global CEOs, the second choice was getting feedback from the chairperson or board.

 

“We find Indian CEOs more reluctant to seek candid feedback (especially on themselves) from their boards or chairperson. The question is: Do they feel more vulnerable in front of their boards? Can boards foster an environment that provides for such conversations?” said Vikram Jeet Singh Arora, leader of Egon Zehnder’s industrial practice.

 

While for Indian CEOs, growth was of paramount importance, for global CEOs it was financial performance (profit), followed by growth.

In terms of what drives their decisions, Indian CEOs ranked innovation metrics much higher than their global peers. These differences could be a reflection of the fact that the leadership in large tech-based companies, which originated as start-ups, focused on growth (gross merchandise value, or GMV) more than profitability for valuation.

 

In experience, one-third of Indian CEOs said they had prior experience as chief executive officers, compared to the global average of only 22 per cent.

 

They are also much younger. Globally, 30 per cent of the CEOs are aged 55-59, whereas only 17 per cent of Indian CEOs are in this age bracket; most are far younger.

 

However, the companies they run are much smaller. Two-thirds of the Indian companies had revenues of less than $1 billion compared to 46 per cent of the non-Indian CEOs. And just 17 per cent had revenues between $1 billion and $5 billion compared with 37 per cent globally.

 

As many as 88 per cent of the Indian CEOs declared that they must have the capacity to perform the dual task of transforming themselves as well as their companies, compared to 77 per cent of global CEOs.

 

Interestingly, the 88 per cent figure is three times the figure that emerged from a similar survey by Egon in 2017 and this suggests that external changes are impacting Indian companies greatly and imposing new demands on CEOs.



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